The beer bottle is wet.
I wipe the condensation on my skirt, then take a drink. The bottle shakes in my hand. I put it down, and then read over the small, crinkled paper again.
The lights dim as I’m mumbling, and the MC approaches the mic stand. It’s a Tuesday night at Dead Crow Comedy Club, a venue that’s hosted the likes of Michael Che of Saturday Night Live, and The Daily Show’s, Trevor Noah.
Despite my snarkiness on this blog, my New Years resolution to try standup would be a challenge for me. Honestly, I don’t really know how to be funny. I just like being salty, and that somehow, has translated into humor for others.
“That looks like a Tetris game you’re losing,” I tell one of my co-workers, when I see their Google calendar pulled up over their shoulder.
“The valley of hatred between us is filled with his excuses,” I grumble to another, explaining an indifference I’ve had.
They laugh, and comment on my sense of humor. But actually getting on stage, and being entertaining on command… that’s completely different.
So after attending the amateur comedy classes at Dead Crow Comedy, and performing in their starters showcase, here’s what I’ve learned about comedy.
Being Self-Deprecating Only Goes So Far
In some of my earlier bits, I tried poking fun at myself. My most successful attempt was comparing myself to well-known, short-haired people.
“Albino Eleven from Stranger Things”, “Less Hot Robin Wright”, and “Unlikeable Ellen Degeneres” came to mind.
But it only goes so far. I’ve seen a lot of comics, myself included, who toe the line of being sympathetic or sad, rather than entertaining. I decided to ditch this part for the starter showcase, as I think it’s definitely something that takes a lot of practice.
Male Versus Female Humor – There’s A Difference
I’m the least sexist as they come, but I noticed a huge difference between what women and men thought were funny. When I tried to pitch things to my mostly male standup group, in the realm of Bridget Jones meets Amy Wong kind of humor, none of them cracked a smile.
When I shared the same jokes with Dakota and Allie, my co-workers, they were very well received. I joked about a guy on OKCupid trying to make an intro by calling me “big head”, and explained how dating and house buying are similar, though dating doesn’t require the necessary inspection and appraisal.
They loved it – but it didn’t land anywhere else.
I don’t think you should cater your humor to one crowd or another, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. What kind of comic do you want to be? Who do you want to appeal to?
All questions to ask when you’re developing material.
Crudeness Is A Skill
I’ve seen a lot of comics default to a very crude, brash type of humor. I attended an open mic once with a comic who actually asked an audience member about the details of her… personal grooming.
He picked her out of the crowd, and battered her with questions about it. It wasn’t funny. It was just awkward, and actually, bordering on some type of harassment. She got up and left shortly after his set. It made me really angry.
Shouting things about your dick (sorry for the language), isn’t funny. But there are comics who prefer more crude humor, but like any skill, it needs to be developed. Some people love crudeness, but for a beginner, it can result in some really awkward silences.
I opted to steer away from Amy Schumer esque type of jokes, as most of my co-workers were in the audience. I did however, talk about how vanilla the sex was in 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t dig too much into it, and just tried to reflect on the movie lightly, and got some pretty good laughs out of it.
Work Within Your Comfort Zone
At least for the first time. I finally settled on roasting The Notebook because I was comfortable with it. I’ve hated that movie for years. Since I already had the base of my jokes ready, from endless conversations about how I don’t like it, I felt comfortable focusing on other parts of my performance.
Since I didn’t need to focus so much on the story, I could remind myself to slow down, and to take larger pauses between jokes. When I practiced other bits, such as my indifference with Snapchat, or my experiences in Iceland with the Black Death, I tripped over my words.
Working through new material is really difficult. It takes a lot of practice.
The Creative Process Is New
Nothing has humbled me more as a story-teller than standup comedy did. Performing comedy, live, is one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. It requires preparation, confidence, and charisma.
It broke down my creative process, and built it back up again. If you’re a writer, or an artist, just thinking of ideas of jokes will come easily… but the execution will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
This kind of thing requires a really thick skin. Without my blog to hide behind, everything I said was open, heard, and responded to in real time.
Thankfully, I had my Huify crew there to laugh along with most of my material. Don’t underestimate the power of a captivated audience.
Dead Crow Comedy Club routinely does standup classes for beginners. For $80, you’ll get four classes and a place in their showcase. For more information, visit their Facebook page. Tell them girl Justin Bieber sent you.